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4 March 2021

Lusaka, 3rd March 2021 – The Zambezi River Authority (the Authority) hereby wishes to provide an update to the public regarding the water situation in the Kariba Catchment and lake levels at Kariba dam. This update is a follow up to that of 19th January 2021.
Lake Levels Recorded at Kariba Dam
The Lake levels, as expected, during this time of the year have continued rising due to increased rainfall activity in the Kariba catchment. From the last update made on 19th January 2021, the lake levels have increased by a total of 3.96 meters from the lake level of 476.80m recorded on January 19th to a lake level of 480.76 meters recorded on 2nd March 2021. This has placed the lake level at 5.26m above the Minimum Operating Level (MOL) of 475.50m. This lake level recorded on 2nd March 2021 translates into usable storage or live storage of 24.31 Billion Cubic Meter (BCM). Last year on the same date, the Lake level was lower at 477.17m with 7.48BCM of usable water or 11.55% live storage.
Water Allocation for Power Generation at Kariba Dam
Based on the Meteorological Authorities’ projections of normal to above normal rains for the on-going 2020/2021 rainfall season, the Authority has maintained the 30 BCM of water allocated for power generation operations at Kariba for the year 2021.
However, the Authority continues to monitor the evolving hydrological situation under the Kariba catchment. This is being undertaken, taking cognisance of the increased rainfall activity, and resulting water levels at Kariba dam, with the view of making consideration regarding the possibility of revising the water allocation at Kariba dam.
Performance of the 2020/2021 Rainfall Season to date
In line with the seasonal forecast released by the Twenty-Fourth Annual Southern Africa Regional Climate Outlook Forum (SARCOF-24) in August 2020, the bulk of the SADC region in general and the Kariba Catchment in particular, continues to receive normal to above-normal rainfall for the first quarter of 2021. Accordingly, the Zambezi River as monitored at the Authority’s gauging stations has continued to record an increase in flows.
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Monitoring of River Flows to Inform Reservoir Operations at Kariba Dam
The Authority continues to gather and record daily water level readings at its 14 gauging stations located across the Kariba Catchment area, with the recorded hydrological data utilized in informing reservoir operations at Kariba dam. As usual, the principal gauging stations of Chavuma and Victoria Falls remain pivotal in as far as the gauging of the overall inflows into Lake Kariba is concerned.
Zambezi River Flows as Monitored at Chavuma Gauging Station
Zambezi River flows at Chavuma which have been increasing in the past months, have now started decreasing due to reduced rainfall activity in the catchment consequently closing the period under review at Two Thousand, two hundred and ninety two cubic meters per second (2,292m3/s) on 2nd March. However, these flows are almost half of the flows recorded on the same date last year which were higher at 4,691m3/s. This current reduction in flows is in tune with past trends and also a normal hydrological cycle for the station whereby two peaks are recorded twice in any given season: the first in early March and the second one in April. Accordingly, the second peak is expected in April as the rainfall season progresses.
Zambezi River Flows as Monitored at Victoria Falls Gauging Station
The Zambezi River flows at Victoria Falls recorded more than double increase on 2nd March 2021 in comparison to that of the same date last year, therefore, closing the period under review at 2,910 m3/s on 2nd March while 969 m3/s was recorded on the same date in 2020. As per past trends in flows at this station, increase in flows continue to be recorded. The flows are also projected to reach another peak towards the end of April 2021.
The Authority will continue to monitor the hydrological outlook of the Kariba Catchment and make necessary adjustments in the reservoir operations to ensure continued availability of water for power generation operations at Kariba Dam.
The Zambezi River Authority (the Authority) is a Bi-National organization mandated to contribute to the economic, industrial and social development of the Republics of Zambia and Zimbabwe by obtaining the greatest possible benefits from the natural advantages offered by the waters of the Zambezi River (between Zambia and Zimbabwe) through the most economical and effective means of providing water for generation of electricity and for other purposes which the Contracting States may decide upon.
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Issued by:
Fitzgerald Muchindu
Public Relations and Communications Officer Lusaka, Zambia I Cell: +(260) 978 731 621 I Email: